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Covert incest is like the air in the room. It’s here, but you don’t see it.

Survivors of covert incest (individuals who were emotionally and psychologically sexualized by a parent or some other important caregiver) typically respond in the same ways as survivors of overt (hands-on) sexual abuse, with one or more of the following adult-life symptoms and consequences:

  • Addiction (especially sex and porn addiction)
  • Difficulty developing and maintaining intimacy
  • Shame and feelings of inadequacy
  • Dissociation
  • Difficulties with self-care (emotional and/or physical)
  • Love/hate relationships (especially with the offending parent but also with others)
  • Inappropriate bonding with their own child (intergenerational abuse)

Task for Today
Dig beneath the surface to see if covert incest may underlie some of your behaviors. If you think it might, discuss this with your therapist or a supportive friend in recovery.